Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. The thought of letting our guard down and others seeing our authentic selves is daunting. The word vulnerability, by its very mention can invoke thoughts of fear. For many when vulnerability is mentioned the first word that comes to mind is weakness. Our nervous system is wired so that we feel uncomfortable when experiencing emotions such as disappointment, sadness and fear.
We react to these emotions by trying to make ourselves feel better perhaps by avoidance or by numbing ourselves to the feeling by medicating, overeating or drinking. We cannot cherry pick our emotions. Just as we experience positive emotions we also experience negative emotions.
By learning to sit in the discomfort of the negative emotion we begin to grow and learn that with practice the feeling of vulnerability can become a stepping stone to love, understanding and creativity. Without vulnerability we cannot experience true emotional intimacy. How can we embrace our vulnerability?
- • By stepping outside our comfort zone and cultivating personal confidence. In doing this there is the possibility of being misunderstood, disliked or even rejected. The list of negative outcomes we create as our narrative are endless. However, being vulnerable is not only courageous it also takes practice and begins with learning to love ourselves. By loving ourselves completely we reduce the fear of rejection or concern about what others may think. Self-love builds confidence and the more confident we are the easier it is to accept vulnerability.
- • Recognising our imperfections. Accepting that perfection does not exist. If we constantly strive for perfection we constantly fall short. Letting go of the need to control how other see us is an important step in embracing vulnerability.
- • Willingness to recognise and explore vulnerability leads to a better understanding and acceptance of our “real selves”. Getting to know all parts to us enables us to be authentic and fully present our own lives and truly authentic with others.
According to Dr. Brene Brown, author and researcher, vulnerability is at the very core of all human experiences. She states that we are vulnerable in all interactions with others. In showing others our authentic selves it gives others the opportunity to respond in an authentic manner which in turn leads to a greater understanding, mutual respect and emotional intimacy.
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Marianne Williamson Nelson Mandela’s Inaugural speech.